tiny synths with a BIG sound // 1010music Lemondrop & Fireball Synthesizer Review
This drawkit costs 20 a year, and with that you can upload unlimited amounts of music to all the stores in my hands. I have what could pass for small handheld gaming devices, but theyre. Not. These are actually small: digital synthesizers, Music, Music, Music Applause. This here is fireball an eight voice, wavetable synthesizer, and this is lemondrop a four voice. Granular synthesizer. These two synths here were sent over to me by tenth and music. They also make the black box and the blue box that you might have seen and in todays video im gon na compare these two synthesizers so that you can make an informed decision on which one is right for you or maybe none of them are so lets. Start off by comparing the sound, because, even though they look identical, they dont sound, identical Music Music, my Music Music. So what is the difference that were actually hearing? Well, the fireball is a wavetable synthesizer. A wavetable is made up of multiple single cycle waveforms and you combine them together to create a complex waveform. Now the lemon drop instead uses samples, so you can load whatever samples you want into it, and it uses the first 30 seconds of that sample. You then create smaller parts of that samples and grains that you can manipulate. So here are some more sound demos you can compare, which one fits you the best and after that, well make some patches from scratch. So you get a feel for the difference in workflow, because while these scenes look similar, theyre very different to program Music, Music, Music, next up lets take a look at the oscillators because thats, where the lemon drop and the fireball are quite different.
You start by pressing the wave table here and you can see a representation of it and if we play it sounds kind of boring which wave tables usually do before you start adding modulations and effects on them. But this synth is not groundbreaking in terms of being a wavetable synthesizer. You can select the wavetable here from a list. You can also import your own theres a couple of wavetables here. I would have liked to see more but theres enough here to get you going. So you just select something from the list Music and then we have the position, Music and thats. How you make wavetable senses come alive. You modulate the position within the wave table. So by pressing right we can add an lfo here. Music now were in the second wave table, and here selected, a wave table called furry primes, so lets increase. The volume lets modulate the second wavetables position using lfo number two. So second lfo set to sign not that fast and we have some movement to the sound. Now we can introduce the third oscillator. This oscillator is the same for both the units, both the fireball and the lemon drop. So you can choose from saw triangle, square sine noise and the square can be pulse width modulated, so lets set up a little lfo for this as well, and lets make the second oscillator one octave above and control the level using an envelope. So we go in here set envelope two, so it will be controlling the level of the second wave table.
Select envelope envelope number two increase the attack Music, so weve got some sparkly wave type of magic, just kind of creeping into the sound lets tune down. The third oscillator, so we get it playing one octave below and we go back and we check here so wave table 1 is slightly detuned as well. Music. Of course we havent touched the filter, but yeah. Just to recap: we have the two wave tables. We have an additional oscillators three oscillators, but theres not a whole lot. You can do with them, theres just different wave tables. You can change the position thats about it, its its a wave table synthesizer and if you compare it to something like argon 8, for example, it offers a little bit more in terms of the wave modes that you can apply on the wave tables and theres. Also, some cross modulation options on the argonate which this synth doesnt have just to keep that in mind that this is a nice sounding, but a little bit more basic wave table synthesizer. As of this recording, you know they might be able to add features further down. The road next up lets add a filter. Now we have some metaphor here: controlling the cutoff and some envelope too, to resonance and lets dial in that reverb and it will start sounding pretty nice Music. Now this is a sound that you either really like or youd. Really dislike, or you can see the utility of it within the context of a mix.
You can also turn on the unison mode. So this is what it sounds like without lets. Quickly, change the envelope and lets go into the effects and lets select a chorus, and we have something more snappy Music from here. You could, for example, set up this x and y pad, and these two knobs these are like macro knobs, so you can set it up to control various things, but i think you get the idea of how this unit sounds. Next up lets. Take a look at the lemon drop because its its quite different, and i actually prefer it because its more unique and more interesting, so the lemon drop is a granular synthesizer and it has quite a different sound compared to the little fireball Music Applause, Music Applause. So this preset that i made myself is based on two samples. So if we go into the oscillator here, you can see that the first sample is a polysyn samples, its basically a synth sample. The second oscillator is just some noise, like a noise loop and the third oscillator, which is the same as on the fireball, is set to square with some pulse width. And since you can load pretty much any sample and use that as the foundation for a cinti. Sound you can make stuff like this Music, so this sound here is made up out of a piano, sound and an electric piano sound and a bit of uh. I think its a sine wave, maybe yeah a sine wave, and if we take a look here at the graphical representation when i hit the node, the first sample is just the position is just moving through it and the second sample you can see how it jumps Around and were going to take a little look at whats going on here under the hood and some of the settings that you can use, but it basically lets you create these kind of vibrant, weird esoteric sounds Music.
Music lets start by loading a sample, and you can very easily load your own samples by just dragging and dropping them onto the sd card. I think they take the first 30 seconds of whatever sample you have on the sd card and uses that as an oscillator, and we can see here, ive loaded a few so lets take this polishing sound here say we have a bunch of different parameters. We can beat sync the grain selection, so we can set the tempo for the entire unit and then bit sync. It we have density and if bitsync is off density, determines the amount of grains that are played per second. So, as you can see here, when i increase it, we get a graphical representation of the grains. Then we have grain size, Music. How large are the grains, so you can see how small they are. Then we have a window and when its at zero percent, the grains are always selected at the same spot and when we increase it were also increasing the window. So to speak of where a grain can be selected Music, it was just a splash of reverb. We have some magic happening already Music. Next up, we have jitter, which is basically like a chaos parameter at zero percent. Theres no deviation when selecting your grains and the more you increase it. The more randomness and chaos you introduce, so you can hear how it became much more unpredictable when we increased the jitter next up.
We have random panning here, which i think is really nice gives us a nice stereo sound. The next parameter is play mode. You can have it fixed, which is suitable for this kind of sound Music. So wherever the play position is set to thats where were starting in the sample – and you can of course modulate the play position, this is a little bit like on the fireball, where you could set the position of the wave table, but here youre setting the position In a longer sample, you can also set it to moving which moves the playhead through the sample at various speeds, depending on your speed setting can also loop the sample so either forward or bi directional. So it you know, goes to the end and then back again we can also preserve the attack of the sound, its a little technical. For me, i think what it does it scans like the first, the first attack of the actual sample, and it preserves that attack value, regardless of where you end up in the sample where you set your start position, but dont take my word for it. Its a bit too technical for me, the next setting is pattern which lets us add an octave above or a fifth Applause: Music, Music. We can also detune the sound and we have live input which i will touch on later in the video now lets introduce a second sample. So we just press here go to grain number.
Two so add this little flute sound on top Applause, Music and what i like to do is just go through a few of the parameters while playing turning the knob, changing the value and seeing if something fun happens, when you modulate it so im just doing it Manually and if i find some fun interaction like this, for example, i might use it so we can set telephone number two to control the density and suddenly we have this moving vibrant, sound, Music. The filters are the same on both units, so lets add some filter and lets add some coarse. I think just to top this sound off Music and i think you can see why. I think that the lemon drop is a really interesting synthesizer. Now next up lets. Take a look at that input, but first a quick word from todays sponsor heres, five reasons to try out distrokid. Firstly, you sign up for about twenty dollars a year and you can upload unlimited amounts of music. Secondly, its really quick and easy to upload. Basically, anyone can do it without any prior knowledge. Three, there are different tiers of subscriptions. So if you want to release your music under, say, different artist names or if youre starting a label district has an option for you. Four district lets you upload to relevant stores and streaming services such as spotify and itunes, and it doesnt take long for the music to be available in the stores.
Five theres. Also, the hyper follow feature which automatically creates a custom page where people can find out where to buy or listen to your music, and i personally really like this feature so go and check out district. Using my link in the description you get a little discount and you support the channel. Another thing that you can do with these two synthesizers is using them as effects units, so theres a stereo input and for the fireball you can take incoming audio through its effects. But what sets them apart is that the nanobox can actually be used as sort of a crane, sampler grain effects unit and take incoming audio and process it through its grain oscillator Music. Here im processing a loop through the grain synthesizer. I have bitsync on and im controlling the window using an lfo and im controlling the live positions. I can actually jump back and forth in time. You can hear it in this little demo here: Music and im also processing the external audio through the filters, as well as the effects, so the chorus and the reverb and here im, taking just one drone sound from the machine into the lemon drop lets. Add some reverb lets add some chorus, Music and lets go into the granular engine and see what we can do Music, so Music, Music Music. Next up, i want to talk about what is actually similar between the devices and one obvious similarity is that theyre, physically identical? So we have the same knobs and buttons.
We also have the same inputs and outputs and the ui and the functions are very similar, except for the obvious difference in synth engine. So if we take a look here, this is the home button here. If we press it once we get this x y little pad here, so the screen is a touch interface. You can also use these knobs here to scroll through a menu and what we see here are representations of the two main oscillators and we can press it to quickly access that page and theres, often different pages and those are indicated by these dots over here. So you can just cycle through the different pages using this button here now in terms of similarities. Both of these devices have two filters: each they can be parallel or they can be in series theres, also different filter types, so high pass low, pass band, pass and notch, and you can use your finger to set the cut off and its pretty responsive. If we press this button here, we access filter number two and it has the same filter types now here is something really important. If we go to cutoff, you can see these three dots. They indicate that this parameter can be controlled by something to access this. You press this little arrow button here and here we have three sources, so we could go to say source number three here and select whatever we want from the list, so you can have none.
We have envelope one and two lfo 1 and 2 sequencer velocity pressure. Key mod wheel, x and y x and y also corresponds to these macro knobs, and if you want to learn a cc value, you press learn and turn a knob here, and it learns the cc value of the knob that you turned its very simple, so thats. How you set up a modulation, then we also have envelopes so theres, two envelopes per unit, one and two – and you can see here – attack decay and release are modulatable, so you could, for example, go into the attack phase here of the envelope and set it to The lfo, so the lfo could modulate the attack, for example, and then theres the lfos theres two lfos per unit. So we have different. Waveforms saw revsa triangle, positive triangle, sine positive sign, square, positive square room, random, and then we have the sequencer. So it looks like this, so basically its a step sequencer that you can use to modulate something anything thats, modulatable, basically and theres, a secondary page on both devices that lets. You set the step length here number of steps from 2 up to, i think its 32, and then we have key trig. So basically it triggers with the key. So it resets, if you press a new key and in terms of effects its the same on both devices. So you have two effects: engines so effects engine number one here can be a flanger plus distortion, cores or phaser, and if we press again fx2 can be delay or reverb, and this is the same for both devices.
So last in this video, let me give you some of my opinions on these two scenes. So, first and foremost, ive had a lot of fun with the lemon drop, and i think that shows has a very unique, sound and theres. Not a lot of granular synthesizers out there to choose from the gr1 comes to mind its an alternative, its a little bit. More expensive, whereas the fireball has more competition, because there are quite a few wave tables since out there, which brings me to the price, i think its priced around 400 and at that price point. There is a lot of competition out there and 400 bucks might seem like a lot for such a small synthesizer, but you also have to compare the specs, so this is sort of equivalent to an orgonate, for example, so its eight voices, which is the same as The argon 8, but then of course, the module version is closer in price and i would actually recommend the module version over the fireball. But then, if we look at the lemon drop theres, not that many granular synthesizers out there so 400 bucks, for it seems pretty. Okay to me, given the competition, but then, of course its all up to you, whether or not you think a small synthesizer is worth this kind of money or not, and another negative that i want to bring up is the touch screen its not used for that? Many things its used for this x and y pad that ive showed you its used to control, say the filter, but oftentimes.
I end up using the knobs anyway, so it feels like an interesting technical solution. That is a little underutilized. You use it for typing in the name of a preset, for example, which is super nice compared to just dialing it in on other synths, but other than that, its a little bit under utilized and could be used more so maybe thats something for a future update And speaking about future updates, here are some improvements that id like to see in future updates to these synthesizers number one, especially on the fireball id like to see oscillator being a source. So you can use that to modulate something else in the synthesizer. So, for example, cross modulating between the oscillators, so thatd be nice number two id like to see more wave tables on the fireball. I dont think theres enough currently theres a couple, but there could be more so thats, something that could be improved upon number three: more samples on the lemon drop sure you could add your own, but it would be nice with a larger curated set of samples. It would also bring the synthesizers more in line with the competition and turn things off while its not something that could be added in a firmware update. I think its a bit of a missed opportunity not to have them battery powered because its just a lot of fun sitting and tweaking them theyre, actually the perfect size to just hold in your hand and creating simpsons on and its just a lot of fun.
I actually took this with me on the bus. True story took it with me on the bus i powered it using a power bank and just sat there making sounds and having it almost like a meditative device, because the lemon drop can create these beautiful soundscapes but theres no internal battery and i think thats a Little bit of a missed opportunity, so which one is right for you. Let me know down in the comments or maybe none of them.